Committees to watch this week…

House and Senate Appropriations both continue to receive briefings from various departments on the budget

House Committee on Commerce and Economic Development will see the introduction of several interesting bills this week, including H.102, sponsored by Bill Lippert (D-Heinsburg) would require heating fuel dealers to report each month to the department of public service the average price per gallon. H.161 sponsored by Dave Sharpe (D-Bristol), An act relating to regulating the sale of propane gas, which will “prohibit a minimum usage fee for propane gas sales; to require sellers of propane gas who rent gas tanks to also offer tanks for sale; to require a certificate of installation when propane gas tanks are installed; to prevent sellers from refusing to sell propane gas to consumers who have certification of installation without written notice of good cause; and to require public disclosure of prices and charges.” And, a curious hit job by Ann Pugh, H. 160 – “An act relating to advertising as a local business,” taking to task some poor flower shop. The bill proclaims, “It shall be an unlawful and deceptive act and practice in commerce inviolation of section 2453 of this title for a floral business to falsely represent inan advertisement, on a website, or in a listing of the floral business in atelephone directory or other directory assistance database that the floralbusiness is “local,” “locally owned,” or physically located or domiciled inVermont.” Wow. Who ticked her off?

But, for all the rhetoric we hear about making Vermont an easier place for small businesses to thrive, it appears that our legislators are more hell bent on piling on the regulations.

House Education will be taking up bills on school district consolidation and a statewide teacher’s contract.

Senate Education will be discussing lifting the caps on pre-k enrollment (see article above), and will be taking up S. 44 – An act relating to public funding of independent schools. This is a terrible bill that would “require independent schools to comply with requirements relating to school quality, the provision of special education, and other issues imposed on public schools in order to receive public funding.” This is backdoor way of undermining and destroying Vermont’s 140 year old tradition of school choice. The whole reason for being an independent school is to provide a different educational experience. Here comes the government one-size-fits-all cookie cutter, and so much for celebrating diversity.

House Health Care will take up discusson of the Governor’s Health Care Reform Bill and folding the failed Catamount Health into VHAP.

House Committee on Natural Resources. Squeezed in between much discussion about energy bills is H.145, An act relating to the use of disposable carryout bags. This beauty is broght to us by Representatives Edwards of Brattleboro, Donovan of Burlington

and Sharpe of Bristol, and “proposes to establish a fee of $0.05 for each disposable carryout bag used by a person for the purpose of carrying goods, food, or other products from a retail establishment.” How about a 5 cent charge on legislators for every sheet of paper wasted on bills like this?

Senate Government Operations will take a brief break from discussing campaign finance and the national popular vote to discuss S. 17 – An act relating to medical marijuana dispensaries.

Senate Judiciary will declare “War on Recidivism” at 9:00 am on Thursday.

You can follow committee activity yourself on the legislative website at Committee Meetings and Public Hearings